City Beautiful’s heritage rakes in crores abroad

CHANDIGARH: A rare demountable minister’s desk, designed for the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the Secretariat building in the city, has been sold for a record Rs 1.27 crore at an auction held by an auction house, Phillips, in London.

City Beautiful’s heritage rakes in crores abroad

The minister’s desk.

Ramkrishan Upadhyay   

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 20

A rare demountable minister’s desk, designed for the  Punjab  and Haryana High Court and the Secretariat  building in the city, has  been sold for  a record Rs 1.27 crore at an auction  held by an auction house,  Phillips,  in London. Sources said the  amount, fetched at the auction held recently, was the highest for any single heritage  item. Two other items of heritage furniture fetched  over Rs 1.50 crore.   

Phillips had put up three items for sale on October 17  and these received   an overwhelming response at the auction.

A rare demountable minister’s desk, designed for the High Court and the Secretariat in Chandigarh by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret,  was  placed for auction at a reserve price of the Rs 61 lakh. The other items which were put up for auction were an “exceptional sofa” of the “administrative building” in Chandigarh and a pair of low chairs, designed for the High Court and PU student residences. Sources said the minister’s desk was  sold  for  £1,37,500 (around Rs 1,26,92,754). The  minister’s desk was  designed during 1955-1959  and was made  of teak-veneered wood.

A pair of low chairs, made of teak and fabric and designed for the High Court and PU student residences, was  sold for  £87,500  (Rs 80,77,207).

A low sofa, designed for the High Court and PU student residences during 1955-1956, was sold for £77,500 (Rs 71,54,098).

Ajay Jagga, a member of the Heritage Protection Cell, UT, raised concern over “unabated  auctions”  of city heritage items abroad. He said immediate steps were required to save the existing furniture  in various departments in Chandigarh. There has been a spate of auctions of heritage furniture from the city by auction houses abroad. Most of these items were sold as scrap in Chandigarh. Auction houses abroad are making millions out of these.

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